Eric Dozier. (Eric Dozier/flickr)
In honor of Black History Month, on Monday February 25, Eric Dozier, the former director of the Harlem Gospel Choir, co-founder and National Director of Arts and Education for One Human Family Music, Inc., spoke to our Upper School about music’s impact on society, especially African-Americans, and how it connects people.
Mr. Dozier opened with “A Change is Gonna Come,” by Sam Cooke. Then, he began his presentation.
Dozier gave a quote which he used repeatedly through the presentation, “Go back and get it,” having the Upper School repeat it to keep their attention. Next, he gave a series of quotes, all meant to show music’s importance, especially to the African-American community, reinforcing this by singing “This Little Light of Mine” with the audience. He talked about the original purpose of the song: to keep up slaves’ spirits while they were working to no end and how it has evolved into a song of hope for all.
Next, Dozier talked about his education in music. He showed a picture of himself with his family and said he learned to sing and play piano while going to church where all of the people who came, despite their lack of proper training, sang together, uniting them in song, breath, and in brain waves, another remark made by the speaker.
Dozier then sang “Motherless Child” by Harry Burleigh and asked what music is truly used for. Some answers were to convey a message, a feeling, an experience, or all of the above, and he said that they were all right, for music is open to one’s interpretation and can be used in many different ways.
Next, he gave a powerful message through a story. Dozier was once in Canada, teaching a class on this very topic. His father was in attendance for the first time, and at the end of the lesson and after everyone had sung and learned together, his father told him that he was doing the right thing, saying that that music, written by African-Americans for African-Americans and its messages was supposed to be shared with everyone.
Dozier was a dynamic speaker with a clear message: music brings people together and has the ability to invoke a change. The quotes he used to show the importance of music helped his point, and their brevity meant that they did not bore the audience. Dozier worked hard to make sure all of those in attendance were engaged and learning, using call and response as well as song to hold everyone’s attention. He tied it all together and ended the assembly by getting everyone on their feet and singing together, proving his point that music brings people together.